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Social Anthropology:


Inna Yaneva-Toraman

Inna Yaneva-Toraman
Inna Yaneva-Toraman
5.16 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Anthropology of development, Economic anthropology, Sociology of Sustainability, Environmental Sociology, Sociology of Education, Education for Sustainable Development, sustainable development, political economy, politics of identity, land and landownership, agroecology and conservation management, sustainable farming, rural development, agrarian change, material culture, personhood, ritual and religion, Melanesia


Baining Fire Dance

The gigantic barkcloth masks of the Baining people are among the most fascinating art forms in the Pacific and for many years they have attracted countless missionaries, ethnographers, explorers, and tourists. Despite the intense interest in these artefacts, very little has been known about them and their role in Baining social life. My research started from the position that these masks and the dances they are made for can tell us a lot about Melanesian personhood and sociality; and the significance of material culture in (re)presentations and identity-making in Papua New Guinea. Drawing on notions of concealment and revelation, invisibility and visibility, and becoming, the project explores the ways in which masking reconfigures and questions the boundaries between life and death, nature and culture, inside and outside, and processes of (re)producing social relationships through conferring different degrees of in/visibility.

Throughout my fieldwork, I became interested in the effects of the recently introduced oil palm business within the region. In 2011 a massive portion of the Baining customary land was transformed into a series of oil palm plantations, which have significantly transformed the area both ecologically and socially. My thesis investigates Baining struggles for recognition and development; local notions about power, decision-making, and social identity; ideas about landownership and indigenous communities' role within the local and global markets of agricultural goods; and changing perceptions about the value of kastom and its relationship to the land. I explore these through the lens of 'masking', and a discussion on hiding, shame, invisibility and visibility.  

In this way, the research offers significant insight not only to the anthropology of masks, material culture, and Melanesia, but also to more general environmental and economic studies both within and beyond the Pacific region. 

Oil Palm Nursery


Dr Alice Street

Dr Casey High 

Dr Aaron Kappeler

Dr Dimitri Tsintjilonis

Academic Qualifications

2011 - 2012  MSc Social Anthropology, The University of Edinburgh
2006 - 2011  BSc Sociology, Middle East Technical University

Awards and Grants

2017     FfWG Foundation Main Grant (BFWG Charitable foundation)

2017    The Edinburgh Award in Professionalism in Community Engagement

2015    Tweedie Exploration Fellowship for Students

2014    ESRC (+2) Open Competition Award

2013    SSPS Social Anthropology Special Award, The University of Edinburgh

Teaching Experience

Senior Tutor

Social Anthropology 1A: The Life Course (SCAN08013) - ( 1st year Undergraduate)

Sustainable Development 1A: Introducing Sustainable Development (SCIL08008) - (1st year Undergraduate)


Ritual and Religion (SCAN10023) - (3rd year Undergraduate/Honours)

Consumption, Exchange, Technology (SCAN10031) - (3rd year Undergraduate/Honours)

Kinship: Structure and Process (SCAN10021) (3rd year Undergraduate/Honours)

Social and Cultural Geography (GEGR08004) - (2nd year Undergraduate)

Geography Fieldwork: Foundations (Human Geography - Athens Field Trip) (GEGR09017) - (3rd year Undergraduate/Honours)

Nature of Geographical Knowledge (GEGR09012) (3rd year Undergraduate/Honours)

Guest Lecturer

Consumption, Exchange, Technology (SCAN10031) - (3rd year Undergraduate/Honours)

The Anthropology of the Body (SCAN11026) (Postgraduate and 4th year Undergraduate/Honours)

Geography Fieldwork: Foundations (Human Geography - Athens Field Trip) (GEGR09017) - (3rd year Undergraduate/Honours)

Conference and Seminar Papers

(Dec. 2018) 'Hiring to Give: Wealth Distribution and Circulation in a Papua New Guinean Society', paper presented at ESfO 2018, Cambridge, UK

(Jun. 2018) '"Of the Land, From the Land": Mutable Baining Materiality in Response to Dispossession', paper presented at RAI2018: Art, Materiality and Representation, London, UK

(Jul. 2017) ‘Masks, Money, and the Power of Being Seen among the Baining of Papua New Guinea’, paper presented at ESfO 2017, Munich, Germany

(Mar. 2017) ‘Growing families: Household, Gardening, Production and the Family among the Kairak Baining of Papua New Guinea’, paper presented to SIEF 2017, Göttingen, Germany

(Jul. 2016) ‘From cocoa to oil palm: visibility strategy and development among the Baining’, paper presented to EASA 2016, Milan, Italy

(Jun. 2016) ‘Baining Masks and Kastom’, paper presented at the National Museum and Gallery of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

(Aug. 2015) ‘Personhood within a Mask’, paper presented at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia  

Other work

(2017 - present) Copy-editor - Anthropology Matters

(2017 - 2018) Lead Committee Member - School of Social and Political Science Postgraduate Mentoring Scheme (SSPS PGT Mentoring)

(2014 - 2018) Executive editor - The Unfamiliar Journal

(2014) Volunteer assist. -  ‘Pacific Collections in Scottish Museums Review Project’, National Museum of Scotland (blog)

(2011) Interpreter - UNHCR, Ankara, Turkey

Baining mask at the Pacific Games baton tour

PNG Museum Baining mask